MHS principal talks about “birthday beatdown”

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – In an official statement released Thursday, Manhattan High School Principal Greg Hoyt said the school’s football program has a culture issue. The statement comes at the end of the school’s investigation into the beating of two MHS football players, by other members of the team, back in October. In his statement, however, Hoyt refers to only one injured player.

Hoyt listed the findings of the investigation as follows:

  • There is a “culture” issue in the football program that includes a ritual of a “birthday beatdown.”
  • Students abide by a “code of silence” that is not unique to our football program; this code also exists on different levels and in different segments of our society. This code has made it difficult to get the facts.
  • There are differing levels of player involvement ranging from playful pushing to aggressive punching and kicking. We have issued discipline consequences for this behavior to ensure that this behavior will not be repeated. However, those consequences cannot be shared in accordance with state and federal student and employee privacy laws.

Hoyt said as a former athlete and coach he is disheartened with the injury to the student and the behavior that caused harm to one of the school’s students. He said the incident left a negative mark on a program that is rich in history.

“It is not nearly enough, but I would like to publicly apologize to the students, their families, and the plethora of athletes past and present,” said Hoyt.

The Manhattan-Ogden School Board held a meeting Wednesday regarding the fate of its football head coach, Joe Schartz. Board members took no action, keeping Schartz in the head coach position for Manhattan High School. The board has passed the issue to the superintendent and a decision on Schartz’s future will be made at a later date.

Listed below is the full official statement from Principal Greg Hoyt:

Manhattan High School has completed its investigation into alleged events that occurred at Bishop Stadium, in a locker room, after a football practice on October 25, 2017. I wish to thank the Riley County Police Department for their efforts and assistance in this investigation.

Our desire to be thorough and to hold responsible parties accountable has taken a great deal of time and effort on the part of many individuals. This has been a trying time for the entire MHS community. Many people have desired an immediate response, and I certainly understand that perspective. Many are frustrated with the length of the process, which I also understand. This process has taken time, and we don’t want to take hasty or premature action. We wanted to be thorough in our process and get all the facts.

Our findings are as follows:
• There is a “culture” issue in the football program that includes a ritual of a “birthday beatdown”.
• Students abide by a “Code of Silence” that is not unique to our football program; this code also exists on different levels and in different segments of our society. This code has made it difficult to get the facts.
• There are differing levels of player involvement ranging from playful pushing to aggressive punching and kicking. We have issued discipline consequences for this behavior to ensure that this behavior will not be repeated. However, those consequences cannot be shared in accordance with state and federal student and employee privacy laws.

As a former athlete and coach I am disheartened with the injury to the student and the behavior that caused harm to one of our students. This has left a negative mark on a program that is rich in history. It takes years to build a house, and yet takes only moments to tear it down. So will be the case with the reputation of our athletic program, our school, and our community. This unfortunate behavior which resulted in a student being injured will define our school and athletic program for quite some time.

It is not nearly enough, but I would like to publicly apologize to the students, their families, and the plethora of athletes past and present.

Steps have and continue to be taken to correct and ensure that this never occurs again, including additional mandatory supervisory and staff training requirements and enhance athletic educational components.

No further statement will be forthcoming.

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